In the latest incident of violent anti-abortion extremism, an intruder wielding a hatchet ripped through a Planned Parenthood in Claremont, New Hampshire last week destroying telephones, medical equipment, computers and plumber fixtures, resulting in “significant” damage including flooding. According to Claremont law enforcement, a suspect, described only as a juvenile, was apprehended at the scene.
Wednesday’s act of clinic violence marks the second in as many weeks at the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. On October 6, vandals spray-painted the exterior of the Claremont facility with hate speech directed at the clinic’s health care providers. The connection between the two incidents, if any, remains unclear. The clinic, which has operated without incident for 18 years, offers a range of healthcare services for both men and women and does not provide abortion services.
Women’s reproductive healthcare providers have experienced a spike in acts of clinic violence and vandalism since the release of several fraudulent “sting” videos surreptitiously recorded by David Daleidan and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-abortion group. The videos, which falsely claim to depict the trafficking of fetal body parts by Planned Parenthood, have been debunked repeatedly. Nonetheless, Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide have suffered arson, destruction of security cameras, removal of signage and graffiti at the hands of anti-abortion extremists in the months since their public distribution.
“This illegal activity is the second incident in New Hampshire since the recent escalation of attacks against Planned Parenthood, “said Jennifer Frizzell, Planned Parenthood Northern New England’s vice president for public policy. “These acts have no place in New Hampshire.”
In a statement on Wednesday, New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan called the vandalism “an attack on the fundamental right of women to access health care” and challenged communities statewide to stand up “against those who would undermine a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.”
“Planned Parenthood provides critical primary and preventive health care services – including cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing – and access to these services is essential to the economic security and vitality of our families,” said Hassen. “It is long past time to end extreme attempts to block access to critical health services for women.”
Planned Parenthood clinics have been under attack across the country in recent months. Last month a reproductive health clinic near Spokane, Washington was set on fire in what was determined by police as an arson. Proceeding this attack two Louisiana clinics suffered property damage when a unidentified perpetrator doused the construction site of a New Orleans Planned Parenthood with gasoline while in nearby Metairie, and a suspect allegedly removed signage from a local abortion clinic. And in March, a trespasser destroyed Mississippi’s Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s security cameras and power generator.
Media Resources: WMUR ABC 9, Manchester, NH 10/22/15; Feminist Newswire 9/2015; 3/25/15;